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 Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students    
 Author:  editor
 Dated:  Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 05:08 PM EDT
 Viewed:  14,644 times  
By Barry Wells

London, Ont. -- Lights, camera, bun toss! London's rolling out the red carpet for Hollywood's hottest screenwriter and its humble native son on Monday, September 11 (unusual date that one), 2006.

Paul Haggis, who won two Academy Awards last March -- best original screenplay and best picture for the movie, Crash -- was born on March 10, 1953, "on Blackfriars [Street] near Blackfriars Bridge" says his father Ted, which explains the name of Haggis's film company, Blackfriars Bridge Productions.

In the early 1970s, Paul cut his teeth in theatre production at the former Gallery Theatre at 36 York Street (owned by his father) before heading to Tinseltown in 1974-75 to follow his dream of writing TV and movie scripts. After a few years of doing odd jobs in Los Angeles, Haggis finally landed a gig writing for the TV series, Love Boat. Thirty years later, the rest is history.

What does London have planned for our hometown-lad-done-good? It's supposed to be all hush-hush. A deep dark secret known only to a handful of poohbahs at city hall, but, not surprisingly, the cat is now out of the bag.

The day will be spent visiting students in a few London schools (Fanshawe College's M block at 10 a.m., CCH at 12:15 p.m. and H.B. Beal at 1:45 p.m.), along with an afternoon visit to city hall for a ceremonial schmoozefest and bun toss, to be filmed by an entertainment TV show from Hogtown.

The question is, will Haggis bring along his two Oscars for Londoners to ogle? I predict he will.

CELESTIAL CITY: At city hall, Haggis will also receive an original collage called Celestial City by internationally renowned London artist, Philip Aziz (, from Philip and Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best.

Preeminent Jungian scholar, London psychotherapist and author, Dr. Robert Aziz -- a cousin of artist Philip Aziz -- says this about Haggis' movie Crash and Aziz' Celestial City: "Although operating in very different mediums, what the artistic visions of Paul Haggis and Philip Aziz have in common is a deep concern with the interrelatedness of life, the relationship of the part to the whole ..."

Want to watch the proceedings from the public gallery in council chambers on September 11th? The 75-or-so seats in the public gallery are on a first-come first-serve basis, so it's best to arrive at city hall early -- say around 2:45 p.m. for the 3:30 p.m. show.

Ted Haggis says that Paul's "coming to London [by limo] from the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday night [the 10th, when his latest flick, Last Kiss, is premiering], staying with me, then leaving for the school tour in the morning. There's a meeting at city hall. Paul's flying back to L.A. the next day."

Apparently Paulie-baby is flying back to L.A. from the London airport around 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday, September 12th, so he'll be in London for two full days. A visit to Philip Aziz' stunning studio and gallery -- a designated heritage property -- at 150 Philip Aziz Avenue is a possibility on Tuesday.

Initially, civic officials discussed naming a new southwest London street after Haggis (a property once owned by Paul's father) but Ted says, "I put the kibosh on that. The property had no real connection to Paul. We wanted to focus on schools that Paul attended. If Paul can inspire just one student, that's great."

Now we learn that the City also plans to honour Haggis by dedicating a future park in his name in southwest London near White Oaks and Southdale roads.

According to Robin Armistead in city hall's Culture Office, London-based Media Management Inc. is helping to organize the day, along with John Winston of Tourism London and Andrea Halwa of the London Arts Council.
Barry Wells is a London, Ontario-based freelance writer who's been named to the 2006 Mayor's New Year's Honours List for Heritage (

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  • Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students | 4 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
    Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students
    Authored by: Karen Laidlaw on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 07:17 PM EDT
    Oh OK, the Free Press never had the information about Paul Haggis receiving "Celestial City" -- the original collage from artist Philip Aziz.

    They also never had the details about where and how long he's staying in London.

    I'll be sure and wear a tight-fitting skirt down to city hall and try and catch Paul's eye (flutter, flutter), in order to score an autograph. His wife's back in L.A., right?

    I used to be a chronic complainer. Then Imagine London succeeded in redrawing the ward boundaries and I was born again as a ray of glorious sunshine.
    Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students
    Authored by: Butch (The Beast) McLarty on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 06:35 PM EDT
    Not surprisingly, Haggis admitted this afternoon that he logs onto altlondon about three times a week to find out what's going on in Melonville.

    Goodbye Joe, you gotta go, me oh my oh
    You gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
    Just like Vaughan, the easiest one, me oh my oh
    Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students
    Authored by: Karen Laidlaw on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 03:10 PM EDT
    A stunning omission in the Free Press online photo gallery, Dan Brown's blog and the newspaper reportage, is the complete absence of any mention of Paul Haggis receiving an original piece of art from internationally renowned artist Philip Aziz at city hall yesterday.

    Aziz, 83 (who was deemed significant enough by the City of London to have had a street named after him in 2005), presented the art work, Celestial City, to Haggis personally, amid a constellation of flash bulbs and an array of video cameras.

    This was a significant part of the affair at city hall yet it has been "airbrushed" out of the event entirely -- a sort of rewriting history by omission.

    Given that the underlying purpose of this event was to promote the arts in London and area, the real question is, why did the Free Press wilfully ignore this part of the event?

    Who to vote for? Paid pesticide lobbyist John Matsui and his candidate Joe Fontana or Anne Marie DeCicco who supports a pesticide control by-law?
    Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students
    Authored by: Karen Laidlaw on Tuesday, September 12 2006 @ 04:42 PM EDT
    Even the City's media release on September 11, 2006 mentioned the Aziz work of art for Haggis:

    The Corporation of The City of London
    September 11, 2006
    Paul Haggis Welcomed Back to Hometown

    Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis came out from behind the cameras to visit his hometown today, as he was honoured at a series of events held throughout London, Ontario.

    “It’s been absolutely wonderful having Paul home in The Forest City,” said Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. “Paul stands as a strong symbol of passion and dedication - a fine example of someone who truly follows his heart, and in doing so, he inspires all of us to pursue our own dreams - whatever they may be.”

    Haggis began this morning with a visit to Fanshawe College, where it was announced that he will receive a honorary diploma. It was also announced that a scholarship would be established in his name to help students who want to study the arts at Fanshawe.

    From there, Haggis toured his old high schools - Catholic Central High School and H.B. Beal Secondary School – meeting with students, old friends and former teachers.

    The day culminated at London City Hall where it was announced that a new city park would be named Paul Haggis Park. A nine hectare green space with a four hectare pond, the park is located in the city’s south west end (Wharncliffe and Southdale) area. Development plans include a soccer pitch and baseball diamond, play structure, pathways, benches and trees and a scenic trail around the pond with a lookout.

    Haggis was also given a painting, Celestial City, by internationally-acclaimed London artist Philip Aziz. Aziz who has pieces hanging in the Vatican, the Metropolitan Opera House in New York as well as in galleries in Miami, Paris, Washington and Sydney, Australia.

    On March 5, 2006, Haggis became the first person in the history of the Academy Awards to write two back-to-back Best Picture Winners, for Crash and the previous year’s winner, Million Dollar Baby. His latest endeavour, The Last Kiss, a new film for which he wrote the screenplay, debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival this past weekend.

    Who to vote for? Paid pesticide lobbyist John Matsui and his candidate Joe Fontana or Anne Marie DeCicco who supports a pesticide control by-law?